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Article
Publication date: 1 December 2004

Anne‐Wil Harzing and Claus Christensen

This article reviews the established understanding of the concept of expatriate failure, discusses its associated problems and presents a more sophisticated and…

Abstract

This article reviews the established understanding of the concept of expatriate failure, discusses its associated problems and presents a more sophisticated and comprehensive understanding of the concept. The article argues that it might well be time to abandon the concept of expatriate failure altogether and instead draw on the general human resource literature to analyse problems related to turnover and performance management in an expatriate context..

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Career Development International, vol. 9 no. 7
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1362-0436

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Article
Publication date: 1 March 1999

Mark J. Martinko and Scott C. Douglas

The high failure rate for expatriate leaders is well documented. One major cause of these failures has been identified as the incongruencies in the perceptions of…

Abstract

The high failure rate for expatriate leaders is well documented. One major cause of these failures has been identified as the incongruencies in the perceptions of expatriate leaders and the host members that they manage. This article describes theory and research which suggests that a potential explanation for at least some of these perceptual incongruencies is that they are a result of culturally‐based attributional biases interacting with self‐serving and actor‐observer attributional biases. Although not all of the interactions of these biases result in incongruent perceptions, some interactions appear to be particularly prone to result in incongruent perceptions such as when leaders from highly individualistic and low context cultures interact with members from highly collectivistic and high context cultures. Suggestions for research and interventions designed to reduce incongruent attributions between leaders and members are discussed.

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The International Journal of Organizational Analysis, vol. 7 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1055-3185

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Article
Publication date: 1 February 1998

Maali H. Ashamalla

Business is no longer limited by national boundaries. The majority of the world's large corporations perform a significant portion of their activities now outside their…

Abstract

Business is no longer limited by national boundaries. The majority of the world's large corporations perform a significant portion of their activities now outside their home countries. As many U.S. firms continue to establish and strengthen their presence overseas, they are also experiencing high failure rates among their international managers. According to a number of recent studies, the rate of failure among American expatriates ranges from 25 percent to 40 percent depending on the location of assignment (Fortune, 1995; McDonald, 1993, and Ralston, Terpstra, Cunniff&Gustafson, 1995). These rates are quite high, particularly when compared to failure rates experienced by European and Japanese international corporations.

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Competitiveness Review: An International Business Journal, vol. 8 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1059-5422

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Article
Publication date: 1 March 1984

Yoram Zeira and Moshe Banai

In the last two decades we have seen a rapid increase in both the number and size of multinational corporations (MNCs). These organisations typically have their…

Abstract

In the last two decades we have seen a rapid increase in both the number and size of multinational corporations (MNCs). These organisations typically have their headquarters (HQs) in a parent country, and branches, subsidiaries or joint ventures of different types in host countries. Although their international personnel policies are very diverse, most MNCs send parent‐country managers and professionals to work in the host countries for limited periods of time.

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Personnel Review, vol. 13 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0048-3486

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Article
Publication date: 2 October 2009

Irene Chiotis‐Leskowich

The purpose of this article is to highlight the central role of family adjustment in expatiate effectiveness, and presents it as a developmental issue.

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this article is to highlight the central role of family adjustment in expatiate effectiveness, and presents it as a developmental issue.

Design/methodology/approach

Literature reviews were used to create this article.

Findings

Though family adjustment appears among the top reasons for expatriate assignment failure, the family as an interdependent system is regularly overlooked in expatriate preparation. This paper offers a family systems perspective and developmental techniques for expatriate family preparation.

Practical implications

More focused attention to the family system in expatriate assignments – as learning and development issue, rather than a “managed” corporate issue – may well address much of the cause of expatriate failure.

Originality/value

While existing literature concerning expatriate failure is increasingly extensive, very little of it attends to family system concerns and issues. Moreover, none of the literature treats family adjustment as a phenomenon for developmental activity.

Details

Development and Learning in Organizations: An International Journal, vol. 23 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1477-7282

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Book part
Publication date: 3 September 2016

Dana L. Ott and Snejina Michailova

The International Human Resource Management literature has paid less attention to the selection of expatriates and the decision-making criteria with regard to such…

Abstract

Purpose

The International Human Resource Management literature has paid less attention to the selection of expatriates and the decision-making criteria with regard to such selection, than to issues relating to expatriates’ role, performance, adjustment, success, and failure. Yet, before expatriates commence their assignments, they need to be selected. The purpose of this book chapter is to provide an overview of issues related specifically to expatriate selection. In particular, the chapter traces the chronological development of selection over the last five decades or so, from prior to 1970 until present. The chapter subsequently identifies five expatriate selection criteria that have been applied in regard to traditional international assignments, but are also relevant to alternative assignments.

Methodology/approach

We begin by reviewing expatriate selection historically and its position within expatriate management based on changing business environments. Then, drawing from over five decades of literature on international assignments, we identify and discuss five organizational, individual, and contextual level criteria for selecting expatriates.

Findings

Emphasis on different issues tends to characterize expatriate selection during the various decades since the literature has taken up the topic. The chapter describes those issues, following a chronological perspective. In addition, the chapter organizes the various selection criteria in five clusters: organization philosophy, technical competence, relational abilities, personal characteristics, and spouse and family situation.

Research limitations and practical implications

While there are studies on expatriate selection, there is more to be understood with regard to the topic. Provided all other expatriation phases are subsequent, if selection is not understood in detail, the foundations of studying phases and processes that take place once expatriates are selected may not be sound. While the scholarly conversations of other expatriate-related issues should continue, the international human resource management literature can absorb more analyses on selection. A better understanding of expatriate selection will assist its better management. The chapter provides a basis for human resource management professionals to be able to map the various criteria for selection, and decide, under particular circumstances, which ones to prioritize and why.

Originality/value

The chapter brings clarity to a topic that has remained less researched when compared to other areas of interest related to expatriates and their international assignments by tracing the historical development of this important phase of the expatriation process. In addition, the chapter organizes a number of selection criteria along five core areas and discusses each of them to gain insights that help explain expatriate selection in greater detail.

Details

Global Talent Management and Staffing in MNEs
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78635-353-5

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Article
Publication date: 1 April 2006

Guilherme Pires, John Stanton and Shane Ostenfeld

Purpose – Sets out to argue that training and adjustment strategies based on immersion in a foreign culture, in order to reduce expatriate culture shock, can be improved…

Abstract

Purpose – Sets out to argue that training and adjustment strategies based on immersion in a foreign culture, in order to reduce expatriate culture shock, can be improved by training that addresses how to use related ethnic networks within the host country. Design/methodology/approach – A framework used for the examination of the cultural adjustment process of long‐term migrants is used to draw implications for the adjustment process of expatriates. The components of analysis include the U‐curve, social learning theory, and oral deprivation. How long‐term arrivals overcome their culture shock is extended to a discussion of expatriates, their problems, and the need for further areas of training. Findings – Significant similarities in the adjustment problems of the two groups point to similar processes in operation and the potential to apply similar solutions to ease the expatriate adjustment process. Research limitation/implications – The study draws from findings in one discipline area and argues by analogy to the field of international human resource management. Implications of this extension include a widening of expatriate training to include greater awareness of host country ethnic networks and how they can be a useful adjustment resource. Practical implications – Expatriate worker failure is common and costly. While there is considerable emphasis on the technical competency of expatriates, social competency is critical but often neglected. Measures to reduce such social failure that focus on reducing the culture shock encountered, need to be examined carefully. This paper has suggested one approach drawing from an analogous situation. Originality/value – The paper links specific elements of the marketing literature dealing with arrivals from a different culture with the expatriate adjustment problem of international human resource management.

Details

Cross Cultural Management: An International Journal, vol. 13 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1352-7606

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Article
Publication date: 11 May 2012

Syed Bashir

The purpose of this paper is to investigate whether, in a culturally diverse society such as the UAE, organizations employing expatriates can improve expatriate retention…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to investigate whether, in a culturally diverse society such as the UAE, organizations employing expatriates can improve expatriate retention by providing expatriate employees with support aimed at facilitating their cross‐cultural adjustment.

Design/methodology/approach

The study was conducted in two phases; first, a pilot study was conducted to test the instrument. In the second phase, a survey with 54 items on a five‐point Likert scale was distributed to 900 academic and administrative staff working at 12 Higher Colleges of Technology in five UAE emirates via company's internal e‐mail.

Findings

The results show that there is a positive relationship between organisational support and expatriates' cross‐cultural adjustment that includes work, general and interaction adjustment.

Practical implications

This study is a synthesizing research that examines the relationship between organisational support and expatriates' cross‐cultural adjustment in a Middle Eastern environment. HR practitioners' and management researchers' concerns that seek to predict the selection of individuals who can live and work successfully in cross‐cultural setting, are explored in this study.

Originality/value

Global competition and reduction in trade barriers have increased the demand for individuals who can work effectively in a foreign environment. In the United Arab Emirates, the expectation is for the number of expatriates to increase in the coming years, with a corresponding expectation that, as the number of expatriates is growing, the expatriate failure rate is also increasing. Thus, the way in which organisational support programs affect the expatriate's perceptions of the company should be of particular importance for making decisions regarding which programs to offer.

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Article
Publication date: 8 November 2011

Sabina Cerimagic

The purpose of this paper is to find out if Australian project managers who are working in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) receive cross‐cultural training and if this…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to find out if Australian project managers who are working in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) receive cross‐cultural training and if this training helps them to adapt to the new environment and perform better.

Design/methodology/approach

The information on which this paper is based was obtained through semi‐structured interviews conducted with Australian expatriates who were working the UAE in 2009.

Findings

The findings suggest that cross‐cultural training is very important in that it helps minimise, although not eradicate, misunderstandings and inappropriate behaviours. Specific cross‐cultural training provides expatriates with information and guidance that is relevant and particular to the culture in which they will be working. The information provided should be on the destination country and its people and that country's specific culture, values, attitudes and appropriate behaviours.

Research limitations/implications

Providing expatriates with the appropriate cross‐cultural training is only useful if the expatriate is receptive and willing to learn. The best training in the world is useless if the expatriate is unwilling to learn. This research did not look at the selection criteria for expatriates. Selecting the right people, who are willing to learn and who enjoy new and sometime challenging environments, is paramount to the success of cross‐cultural training.

Originality/value

By providing expatriates with cross‐cultural training, expatriates are more likely to adapt to the new culture faster, which will in turn help the expatriates to perform at their full potential.

Details

Education, Business and Society: Contemporary Middle Eastern Issues, vol. 4 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1753-7983

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Article
Publication date: 1 February 1993

Gael M. McDonald

Discusses research in the literature about the expatriate manageras a unit of resource. The research to date has largely addressedconcerns for the high failure rate and…

Abstract

Discusses research in the literature about the expatriate manager as a unit of resource. The research to date has largely addressed concerns for the high failure rate and costs of expatriate assignments, suggestions for improving methods of personnel selection; comparative studies of expatriate and local managers; and recommendations for improving expatriate success. Notes that rarely are the problems of expatriate personnel addressed collectively, particularly with a focus on Asia. Discusses effectiveness of expatriate assignments within the totality of four distinctive phases: selection; preparation; acculturation; and repatriation. Provides a valuable foundation for providing organizational recommendations to enhance the success of future expatriate placements.

Details

Journal of Managerial Psychology, vol. 8 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0268-3946

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